The models strut down Rodeo Drive, and Ann takes one more step toward victory

By Margaret Lyons
October 14, 2010 at 02:51 PM EDT
Patrick Demarchelier/Pottle Productions Inc.
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Think high fashion. Think Vogue Italia. Think energetic and unique; daring and special. Think…Walmart. Recordscratch! If only consumer dissonance were enough to make this season exciting. Here’s a protip, reality show producers: When the host, creator, and one of the EPs of your show says, during an episode, “you’re making this so not interesting!,” that’s a bad bad sign. But let’s start at the very beginning. It’s a very good place to start.

Bang! Crazy expansion! Density! Solar systems! Primordial soup. Single-cell organisms. Sea creatures take to the land… Okay, okay, I’ll cut to the modeling. I’m resorting to jokes about the origins of the universe, you guys — that’s how little there is to say about this episode. (Next week, I’ll do all my pangea material. Tip your waitress, etc.) It wasn’t a bad episode, or a headscratcher like last week: It was just…blah. At what point can a contest show invoke the mercy rule and just let everyone else go home?

We started with Kayla getting what we’re going to start calling “the adios edit.” When someone has the first confessional of the episode, when she goes on and on about how badly she wants to win, when she gets more but not better screentime than the other modeltestants, it’s time to be afraid.

Ann confessionalized that her confidence was soaring thanks to finally believing that she was beautiful. She didn’t seem all that confident, but it’s really tough not to root for her.

This week’s challenge: Go to Walmart and form a union. I’m sorry, I meant go to Walmart, sit in a tent, and shill for Cover Girl. How easy and breezy. The women were broken up into teams of three, and each group had to demonstrate some aspect of superior eye-makeup nonsense. The whole thing seemed sort of weird and degrading, and it was made all the moreso by Nigel sleazily getting the crowd to talk shizz about the women. His weird glee at showing the contestants their critiques seemed mean. Also, Derek Blasberg was there.

Kacey, Esther, and Kayla won the challenge, thanks partially to Kacey’s solid presentation skills. Oh, she was hellaciously irritating, but she knew exactly how to work the crowd. Liz was jealous and grumpy, and whined “I could have won, but I’m not fake.” Uh, learn how to get fake, Liz! It’s called “marketing,” and no one cares about how “real” you are. It’s not America’s Next Top Honest Person. (Can we please have that show, though? ANTHP could have, say, ethical challenges about balancing honesty with kindness [do you tell someone their outfit is unflattering?], or whether you tell someone if you cheated on them [it only makes you feel better!]. Call me, CW powers that be. Let’s be the change we want to see, etc.)

NEXT: Mypos or bust

Between all the back-and-forth from Kacey and Liz, plus Kayla seeming like she was in danger, and Ann curling her entire body up so she has both her feet and her bottom on a stool, we haven’t seen Esther at all. Like, at all at all. I’m starting to think the producers accidentally lost all the Esther confessional footage, and used TGIF-style problem-solving skills to cover it up: Maybe no one will notice! Maybe if we make a big deal about everyone else, you won’t be able to tell that we’ve never heard this one contestant speak! If we all stand near him, no one can tell that this kid’s head is stuck in the banister!

Again, do you see what I’m reduced to? I just read the whole Perfect Strangers entry on Wikipedia because I thought I might be able to squeeze a Balki Bartokomous reference in. I couldn’t, though. Don’t be ridiculous.

Off to the photoshoot on Rodeo Drive, which Kendal pronounced “ROW-de-oh” rather than “row-DAY-oh.” Oh, Kendal. This week’s special fancy fashion folks were stylist Lori Goldstein and photographer Patrick Demarchilier, and the shoot was a three-parter: First, a shot of two of the modeltestants (and one of the back-again male models) walking down the street; then, a solo shot of each model in motion; and finally, a beauty shot, which we didn’t find out about until the judges’ deliberation.

First up were Jane and Kacey, and while Jane looked fab, Kacey couldn’t figure out what to do. “Normal!” Demarchilier shouted at her. “Wake up!” Uh, yikes!

Next were Chelsey and Ann. Chelsey admitted that she’d have to work extra hard to stand out against the unbeatable Ann, but the bigger issue seemed to be her own nerves. Ann was pretty freaked out, too, and she couldn’t walk like a normal person.

Esther and Kayla couldn’t have been more different, nor could the styling have been more disparate. Esther was adorable and youthful and fun, while Kayla was wearing some weird leather daddy hat and shoes that were so small she could barely walk. Kayla confessionalized that she was in a lot of pain, and Esther confessionalized — nope! We didn’t hear from Esther. Maybe that creepy movie was right. Maybe there is something wrong with Esther.

Liz and Kendal were next, and even though Kendal was wearing a billowy jumpsuit, she looked awesome. Liz was wearing a fedora, and you know how I feel about fashion hats. Also, Liz couldn’t do the solo shot without looking like a cheesy catalog model.

Finally, it was Chris’s turn, and holy cats, she looked so freaking cute. Her outfit and styling were adorable, and she had this bubbly innocence that was just charming. Not high fashion, not Italian Vogue, but still. So cute!

NEXT: Kate Moss’s best friend, or simply deceased?

Judging time! Tyra was wearing a very tight one-shoulder dress, which was attractive enough, but her super-voluminous hair was too much. First up were Kendal and Liz. Their paired shot was decent, but Kendal’s solo shot blew Liz out of the water. Kendal’s incredibly long legs and super-slender build are tough to beat for these kinds of product-heavy shots. Stuff just looks good on her, and her body creates really elegant positive and negative space in a frame. Sigh. Liz’s solo shot was bad news bears.

Esther and Kayla were similarly mismatched: Esther’s shot had a boho-mod cuteness to it, while Kayla just looked deceased. (Andre thought she looked like “Kate Moss’s best friend,” though, so that’s something I guess.)

Jane and Kacey were, again, on opposite sides of the praise spectrum. Jane’s squinty, pouty look in the group shot won high marks, but Kacey’s haughty stiffness turned the judges off.

Ann and Chelsey had the best shot, because duh. Tyra teased Ann for being so awkward and gawky in person, but couldn’t stop praising how great her still photos were. “Beyond! Everything! Ever!” Andre gasped. I feel like even if Ann somehow by some bizarre turn of events (meteor shower?) doesn’t win this, Andre will figure out a way to get her into Vogue.

Chris’s photo was, yes, adorbs, but ALT didn’t feel “the zing.” Is it possible that his taffeta cape is zing-proof, and is deflecting the zings like a lead apron and an x-ray? Just an idea.

The judges deliberated, and looked at individual beauty shots, too, which were all kinda great except for Kayla’s. (Esther’s and Ann’s were total knock-outs, of course. Esther’s reaction was — nope again! Still no Esther.)

This week’s winner: Ann! AGAIN! “Ann, you’re making this so not interesting,” Tyra admitted, and when she’s right, she’s right, folks. If Ann doesn’t win this, I’m going to be crushed. This week’s runner-up: Jane. I thought Kendal got robbed, but she came in third, so I guess she’ll learn to live with disappointment. Esther, Chris, Chelsey, and Liz were safe. Would Kayla and Kacey please step forward?

Two beautiful girls blah blah blah. I was seriously expecting Kayla to get the boot, but mercifully, Kacey was sent packing instead. Ms. Kool Aid Coif lives to strut another day! Bye, Kacey. No one will really miss you.

Can Ann possibly lose this competition? Might Chris be the sleeper star of the cycle? Or can Esther finally figure out a way to get some freaking screen time and work her way into our hearts?

TV ADDICTS, STOP WHERE YOU ARE! Embedded below, listen to the second edition of EW.com’s TV Insiders podcast. Dalton Ross, resident Gleek Tim Stack, Annie Barrett, Michael Ausiello, and Michael Slezak down the week in television — specifically Glee, Dancing With the Stars, and Survivor — and present it to you in an easily digestible audio format. Or click here to download TV Insiders to your MP3 player!

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Tyra Banks searches for the next great supermodel
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